‘Super Congress’? How is this legal?

Ever heard of a Super Congress? Well, hang onto your hats, because apparently this is the latest idea to navigate past all the obstacles and get a budget deal in Washington. Of course, it navigates right past the Constitution too, but hey, they’ve got to get a deal done, right?

This is how today’s Huffington Post explained it:

Under a plan put forth by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his counterpart Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), legislation to lift the debt ceiling would be accompanied by the creation of a 12-member panel made up of 12 lawmakers — six from each chamber and six from each party.

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. … A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits.

Note the Super Congress will be equally divided between the two parties. Excuse me, but Congress as a whole is not equally divided between Democrats and Republicans; who decided the Republicans should get 50% representation when the voters didn’t give it to them? Nor does “six from each chamber” even remotely approximate the division in Congress — 100 senators, 435 representatives. Note too that the whole idea is to bypass any possibility of amendment by “simple, regular lawmakers.” You know, all the other legislators we elected to represent us.

George Bush elevated the presidency to something above the law and above the Constitution, and that has yet to be undone. Now we have legislators deciding they’ll make up their own little Super Congress, totally outside the Constitution and undermining the very carefully planned bicameral Congress that has served the nation for more than 200 years.

Super Congress? They do it at their peril. Our legislators have a job to do. All of them. Together. If they can’t manage to do the job they were elected to do, and do it in accordance with the Constitution they are sworn to uphold, there will be a lot of incumbents booted out of office next time around. Both Republicans and Democrats. And that will be the least of the possible consequences.

Note, August 11: In the weeks since HuffPo first broke their rather hysterical story about a “Super Congress,” it has become clear that the entity is not some illegally constituted, outside-the-law sort of thing. It is just another special Congressional Committee. There have been numerous such committees in the past and will no doubt be many more in the future. They are a routine part of the way business in done in Congress. The super committee has all the pimples mentioned before, but it’s nothing new or supra-legal. They just happen to be dealing with a more important issue than most. Frankly, because the committee members all come from the same pool of elected officials that have already failed to solve the problem, I don’t expect the super committee to do any better.

11 thoughts on “‘Super Congress’? How is this legal?

  1. All these cockamamy schemes have either been thought up by or approved by the leadership of both parties because (I think) all they are interested in doing is avoiding being politically attached to any concrete position.

    They don’t have the intelligence (or economic education) to realize the consequences of either raising, or not raising the debt ceiling, so they’re punting in hopes none of the consequences of their perceived action or inaction will keep them from being replaced. I think the leadership of both parties should be replaced.

    I know I’m biased, but facts are facts… Ron Paul has it right again.

    1. Paul may or may not understand economics any better than anyone else, but he’s every bit as rigid and uncompromising as the current negotiators. That makes him part of the problem, not part of the solution.

      1. Compromising the advocacy of a principle is no virtue. When “The Solution” is immoral, unconstitutional and illogical – that solution is the problem.

  2. Fareed Zakaria gave a nice breakdown of changes to the rules organizing American politics over the past few decades that he believes are behind the heightened level of polarization in Washington

    He added that “It’s depressing, but the fact that our politics are the result of these structural shifts means they can be changed.” I agree.

    1. Zakaria is probably my favorite political analyst. He always seems calm, logical, and very well informed. (Either that, or he sells a very tasty Kool-Aid.)

      1. Two books by Zakaria, “The Post American World” and “The Future Of Freedom” have permanent places on my book shelf.

  3. “George Bush elevated the presidency to something above the law and above the Constitution”

    The guy left office in 2008. At some point you are going to have to come to the realization that he no longer calls the shots. This move by McConnell and Reid has nothing to do with him and your mentioning of him has ruined your entire article that was otherwise informative.

    1. You are absolutely right. I failed miserably to say what I wanted to say. What I should have said was: First we got a Super Presidency (which no one is trying to correct). Now we’re getting a Super Congress. Whatever happened to the Constitution? I’m not blaming anyone in particular; I’m blaming everyone in Washington. Nobody should be pointing to or blaming previous administrations for anything. You can’t change the past; you can only deal with the here-and-now.

... and that's my two cents